(This post was originally written in July, 2007 on the older version of this blog and is now being reused on the WordPress platform)
“Pali Pali (빨리빨리)” is known to be the first phrase which those start working in Korea are required to learn. What does “Pali Pali” mean? It means, “Hurry Hurry” or “Faster Faster”. People in Korea are hardcore like that.
While the title of this post “Things are crazy over here” is obviously meant to catch your attention a bit, I really do mean that things could get quite crazy over here in terms of the pace of things changing.
I’m a huge NBA fan, especially of the Miami Heat. I went back to U.S. for a business trip about a year ago, first time in 3 years. I was watching the NBA playoffs on TNT and ESPN, the first impression I got was “nothing’s changed in 3 years!” Ads looked the same. TV presentations looked the same. Even the guys on the show, including dear Kenny and Charles, were the same! Not bad after all, right?
NBA was only one of many things that didn’t seem to have changed. The language, people, food, atmosphere, etc. You might ask “Well, how much change do you really expect just in 3 years??”
Things are quite different in Korea, though. Language changes a great deal in 3 years. So does what we eat. So does what we wear. Even what we watch. 5 years ago we were only watching Korean soap operas. Now everyone’s watching Heroes or Prison Break over here, thanks to various P2P applications.
We work a lot, too. According to a Wikipedia article, Korea recorded the most working hours out of all the OECD countries.
Why do things change and go around so fast and we still work so many hours? I don’t know. Maybe we are all unproductive workers. Maybe we don’t have firm principles or philosophies that govern and tie together the society in general, which keep weird changes from happening. Maybe people are just having fun running out of breath every time there’s another change to adapt themselves to.
But more than anything, it’s all cultural again. In Asia, things are often about people only. This often means when a small group of people start changing and making a noise, it can spread through the rest of the world at lightning speed without people considering the bigger pictures behind it. You see butterfly effects happening everywhere all the time. May I remind you of the word “emergence”? I’m not sure if you can apply of any of those complex network theories to the way we interact with each other over here, but it surely feels like it.
Well, then. What about the Web? It changes so fast that it’s lierally crazy. I mentioned above our language changing so fast. It’s actually because there are so many jargons being born on the Web that it directly influences how we express ourselves. If you say a phrase that was popular on the Web even a year ago, you’re already not cool any more. News that comes up on portal news sites, the most powerful journalistic institutions in Korea now, which I’ll cover later, can affect so many people that one picture taken with a cellphone and uploaded by a high school student in subway gets viewed by half of the entire Korean population the next day, stirs up the whole nation, and forces politicians to change the law within a week.
If you really think about it, this “craziness” or “intractability” is what represents the new Web. Things are crazy and cannot be controlled. Korean people are so used to that. We’ve been living like that for decades even before the Web was born.
So what’s the conclusion of this post? I miss the laid-back culture in California. I miss the diversity in New York. But I’m here now and things are running only faster because of the Web. Sometimes because of the insanity I’m used to here, many things found in Techmeme seem to be a warmup session to me.
Like I said, the gap is closing. Trust me. Things are only getting crazier for everybody. Maybe we’re all just doomed like this dude. Ask any dedicated blogger.